This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


passport to taiwan

Union Square Park North
Sunday, May 28, free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm

Held in conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the sixteenth annual Passport to Taiwan festival will take place Sunday, May 28, in Union Square Park. The afternoon will feature live performances by Spintop Snipers, Chai Found, Journey to Broadway, Alvin Ailey Dancers, Formosa Melody, Music Center, and Hello Taiwan Tour; such Taiwanese delights as pan-fried dumplings and noodles, intestine vermicelli, Taiwanese tempura, rice dumplings, red sticky rice cakes, lobabeng, steamed crystal meatballs, mango and red bean shaved ice, oyster pancakes, grilled sausage, taro cake, guabao, smoked duck, and crispy giant squid; exhibits from Notable Taiwanese American Project, Bike Tour with Steven Huang, Compassionate Taiwan with Tzu-Chi Foundation, Famous Taiwan Cuisine Connoisseur — Amazing Gourmet Demonstrations, Hakka Culture Experience, and Shiisu Old Street Cultural Mart of Tainan; and children’s games, calligraphy masters, arts & crafts, and more.


Ballet star Wendy Whelan invites audiences it to watch her attempt to get back onstage in Restless Creature

Ballet star Wendy Whelan invites audiences it to watch her attempt to get back onstage in Restless Creature

RESTLESS CREATURE: WENDY WHELAN (Linda Saffire & Adam Schlesinger, 2016)
Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., 212-727-8110
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Francesca Beale Theater, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Opens Wednesday, May 24

“I’ve always been extremely devoted to what I do, and I love being a part of the New York City Ballet. But I do feel the ticking clock, and at times I’ve thought, if I don’t dance, I’d rather die. I’ve actually said that,” longtime New York City principal dancer Wendy Whelan says in the intimate and revealing documentary Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan. Whelan gave directors and producers Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger remarkable access as she faces a turning point in her life and career. In 2013, she began to notice she wasn’t getting the parts she used to excel in and decided to get reconstructive hip surgery, hoping that she could return to dancing full-time, at top level. She allows Saffire and Schlesinger into the operating room as Dr. Marc J. Philippon performs the procedure on her torn right labrum. “Ballerinas are probably God’s best athletes,” Dr. Philippon, says. The film then documents her hard-fought battle to return to the stage, as it’s unclear that she will ever regain her skills — or if Peter Martins and the New York City Ballet will even want her back. “What the fuck is this gonna be like when I can’t do this anymore,” she wonders, later adding, “I need to get back in the game, because I don’t have a ton of time left at my game.” With an inspiring dedication, brave honesty, and self-deprecating sense of humor, Whelan, who turned fifty earlier this month, works with physical therapists Marika Molnar and James Gallegro and discusses options with her husband, choreographer and creative director David Michalek; her manager, Ilter Abramowitz; her mother, Kay; and friends Adam Barrett and Maria Scherer, holding nothing back about the choices she must make. Concerned that soon she will not physically be able to be at her best in ballet, she starts the “Restless Creature” contemporary dance project with choreographers Kyle Abraham, Josh Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. But she still aches to return to her home of thirty years, the New York City Ballet, where decades of balletomanes, twi-ny included, have thrilled to her technical precision, insight, musicality, and breathtakingly beautiful line.

Wendy Whelan faces a crossroads in her career in intimate and revealing documentary

Wendy Whelan faces a crossroads in her career in intimate and revealing documentary

Saffire and Schlesinger, who previously collaborated on such documentaries as Smash His Camera and Sporting Dreams, combine home movies and photos with lovely clips of Whelan in pieces by Christopher Wheeldon, George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins, and Alexei Ratmansky. They mix in scenes of her being interviewed by dance writers, partying with friends and colleagues, talking with former dancers Jock Soto and Philip Neal, and rehearsing with NYCB soloist Craig Hall and principal dancer Tyler Angle. Only once during the year-and-a-half shoot did Whelan ask for privacy; otherwise, her life is an open book, and it’s both exhilarating and heartbreaking to watch, as the film is about much more than just one artist’s struggle to remain relevant; it’s an inherently relatable story about the effects of age, how each of us might react to the inevitable decline of the body. Whelan expresses how hard it is to know that there are certain moves she will never be able to perform again, no matter how well her rehab goes, so there is an underlying sadness throughout the film even as we cheer her on to accomplish her lofty goals. But what really makes the film work is Whelan herself; all of the behind-the-scenes intrigue and personal reflections are fascinating, but Whelan proves to be an extraordinary human being. “You changed how people behave in this profession,” former principal dancer and current Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal tells her. Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan will likely make many viewers take a good look at their own future with new enthusiasm as they approach critical crossroads. The film opens May 24 at Film Forum and Lincoln Center; there will be Q&As with Whelan, Saffire, and Schlesinger (sometimes joined by executive producer Diana DiMenna) at the former on May 25 and May 26 at 7:00 and May 27 at 4:40 and at the latter on May 24 at 7:00, May 25 at 5:00, May 27 at 7:00, and May 28 at 1:00.


fleet week

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and other locations in all five boroughs
Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th St.
May 24–29, pier activities free unless otherwise noted

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will be pouring into New York City for Fleet Week, which takes place May 24-29 at the Intrepid and other locations. The annual celebration, which began in 1982, leads into Memorial Day weekend, reminding everyone that the holiday is not just about barbecues and beaches. Below are only some of the highlights; all pier events are free and open to the public. Admission to the museum is $17-$33 but free for all U.S. military and veterans.

Wednesday, May 24
Parade of Ships, New York Harbor, 8:15 am - 1:00 pm

Fort Wadsworth Fleet Week and National Park Centennial Celebration, Fort Wadsworth Overlook, Staten Island, 9:00 - 11:30 am

U.S. Navy Divers, New York Aquarium, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Thursday, May 25
U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team Performance, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11:00 am

U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team Performance, 9/11 Memorial Plaza, 1:00

Thursday, May 25
Friday, May 26

Public Tours of Visiting Ship Research Vessel Neil Armstrong, end of pier 86, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Thursday, May 25
Friday, May 26
Saturday, May 27

U.S. Navy Dive Tank in Times Square, plaza between 43rd & 44th Sts., 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Thursday, May 25
Monday, May 29

General Public Ship Tours, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Homeport Pier in Staten Island, Pier 92 in Manhattan, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Friday, May 26
Movie on the Flight Deck: Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986), introduced by former NASA astronaut and T-38 pilot Gregory C. Johnson, 7:00

Navy Band Concert, with Navy Band Northeast Rhode Island Sound, Military Island, Times Square, 8:00

Friday, May 26
Monday, May 29

Giant Leaps Planetarium Show, Intrepid, Hangar 3, Rotunda, 12:15 – 3:15

Saturday, May 27
Marine Day, with a formation run, military static displays, demonstrations, and a performance by the USMC Battle Color Detachment, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Broadway Showcase: Cats, Kinky Boots, School of Rock, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking, and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, emceed by The Play That Goes Wrong, Pier 86, Main Stage, 12 noon

U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue Demo, Homeport Pier, Staten Island, 12 noon

CAMMO Voices of Service, Pier 86, Main Stage, 1:30 & 4:30

American Military Spouses Choir, Pier 86, Main Stage, 3:30 & 5:00

Navy Band Concert, with Navy Band Northeast Rhode Island Sound, Military Island, Times Square, 6:00

Battle of the Big Bands, with Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, Glenn Crytzer Orchestra with guest vocalist Hannah Gill, Gunhild Carling with the Swingadelic Big Band, Jason Prover and the Sneak Thievery Orchestra, swing dancing lessons, the Bathtub Ginnys, the Intrepid Swing Dance Brigade, contests, MC Dandy Wellington, DJ VaVa Voom and Odysseus Bailer, Flight Deck, $55-$95, 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

U.S. Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment Performance, Father Duffy Square, Times Square, 8:00

Fleet Week will feature celebrations, commemorations, and memorials May 24-30 in all five boroughs (photo courtesy Fleet Week New York)

Fleet Week will feature celebrations, commemorations, and memorials May 24-30 in all five boroughs (photo courtesy Fleet Week New York)

Saturday, May 27
Sunday, May 28

Activities, displays, demonstrations, tours, and more, including “Dive into Density,” U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team, SeaPerch Pool Demonstrations, antique military vehicles, “Signal Flags,” CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation’s STEM activity, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, “Catch a Cable,” 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Saturday, May 27
Sunday, May 28
Monday, May 29

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Navy Divers, New York Aquarium, Coney Island, $11.95 - $14.95

Meet the Author: Julia Maki, My Mom Hunts Submarines, Hangar 2, Stage, 11:00 am, 12 noon, 1:00

Sunday, May 28
Performance by Tap Life, Pier 86, Main Stage, 12:30

Performance by America’s Sweethearts, Pier 86, Main Stage, 1:00 & 3:00

Performance by Deployed: A New Musical, Pier 86, Main Stage, 1:30 & 4:30

Performance by the 78th Army Band, Pier 86, Main Stage, 2:00

Performance by Exit 12 Dance Company, Pier 86, Main Stage, 3:30

Navy Band Concert, with Navy Band Northeast Rhode Island Sound, Military Island, Times Square, 4:00

Theater of War, with Zach Grenier, Kathryn Erbe, and Reg E. Cathey, Allison & Howard Lutnick Theater, free with RSVP, 7:00

Monday, May 29
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Day Observance, commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Midway, Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Riverside Dr. & 89th St., 10:00 am

Activities, displays, demonstrations, tours, and more, including Minus 5 Ice Sculpting Experience, CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation’s STEM activity, FDNY Fire Safety Experience, Dina Parise Racing 3,000HP Fallen Heroes Cadillac and Porta Tree display, Veterans Vision Project and Arizona State University, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Veteran Artist Program, Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause, Intrepid former crew members, “Dive into Density,” SeaPerch Pool Demonstrations, “Signal Flags,” “Catch a Cable,” “What Floats Your Boat?,” Pier 86, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Memorial Day Ceremony, Pier 86, 11:00 am

Search & Rescue Demonstration by the U.S. Coast Guard, end of Pier 86, 2:00

Bubble Garden by the Gazillion Bubble Show, Pier 86, 2:00 – 6:00


block party

La MaMa hosts multidisciplinary block party on May 20

La MaMa
East Fourth St. between Bowery & Second Ave.
Saturday, May 20

La Mama will be celebrating its fifty-fifth season on May 20 with its annual block party, held in conjunction with the twelfth La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival. “Dancing in the Street” takes place from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on East Fourth St. between Bowery and Second Ave., also known as Ellen Stewart Way, named after La MaMa’s beloved founder, who passed away in 2011 at the age of ninety-one. The afternoon will feature free performances and workshops with Al Son Son Tablao Flamenco, Alexandra Amirov, Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, the Blue Bus Project, Brooklyn United Marching Band, DJ Todd Jones, East Village Dance Project, Janice Rosario, Kinding Sindaw, Kinesis Dance Project, Kinetic Architecture Dance Theater, Lei Making, Hula, Malcolm-x Betts, Pua Ali’I Illima O Nuioka, Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring, Reyna Alcala, Rod Rodgers Youth Ensemble, Company, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Stefanie Batten Bland, Silver Cloud Singers, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Step Team, White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Company, and Yoshiko Chuma. Food and drink will be available from La Contrada, Proto’s Pizza, the Bean, Express Thali, Sobaya, Hasaki, Otafuku, Robataya, Harlem Seafood Soul, Miscelanea, the 4th St Co-op, and Obsessive Chocolate Disorder. There will also be video montages running in the lobby of the theater highlighting the campaign for creative activism (#HereToDance). Attendees are encouraged to bring plastic bags, which Maura Nguyen Donohue will collect and incorporate into her Tides Project: Drowning Planet immersive, interactive installation.


(photo © Ben Gancsos)

The Bang on a Can Marathon moves to the Brooklyn Museum for its thirtieth anniversary (photo © Ben Gancsos)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, May 6, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The May edition of the free First Saturday program at the Brooklyn Museum focuses on the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the innovative new-music ensemble that held its first marathon concert in 1987. On May 6, the group will be at the Brooklyn Museum for its thirtieth anniversary, performing from 2:00 to 10:00. (Suggested admission is $16 before 5:00 and free after.) “Thirty years ago we started dreaming of the world we wanted to live in,” founding members David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe said in a statement. “It would be a kind of utopia for music: all the boundaries between composers would come down, all the boundaries between genres would come down, all the boundaries between musicians and audience would come down. Then we started trying to build it. Building a utopia is a political act – it pushes people to change. It is also an act of resistance to the things that keep us apart.” In addition to the marathon, there will be pop-up teen apprentice gallery discussions in “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas”; a Found Sound Nation interactive workshop in which you can record in the Mobile Street Studio; David Parker’s Turing Tests, a Brooklyn Dance Festival presentation featuring dancers from the Bang Group, with a score by Dean Rosenthal; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make their own musical instrument and then join the Orchestra of Original Instruments in the Biergarten, with Bang on a Can All-Star guitarist and instrument designer Mark Stewart; and pop-up poetry and conga drumming curated by Jaime Lee Lewis, with Jennifer Falu, Hadaiyah Bey, Ahlaam Abduljalil, and Jamie Falu. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” and, at a discounted admission price of $12, “Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern.”


Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY at Sakura Matsuri. Photo by Julie Markes. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY will return to annual Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn (photo by Julie Markes / courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, $25-$30 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

It’s still frightfully cold as May approaches, but perhaps spring will be in the air this weekend for one of the city’s most fabulous annual festivals, the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weekend celebrates the beauty of the blossoming of the cherry trees with live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, a community bookstore, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, giant origami, food, clothing, cosplay, kimonos, insect hotels, a Japanese market (Ito En, Minamoto Kitchoan, Royce’ and Raaka Chocolates, sushi pillows, tenugui wraps, handmade hair ornaments, Togei Kyoshitsu Ceramics), lots of children’s activities, and more. Among the guests are Runi Hara, Kate T. Williamson, Sophocles Plokamakis, Jed Henry, Rio Koike, Soumi Shimizu, Sōkyo Shimizu, Akim Funk Buddha, Jeremy Aaron Horland, J-Music Ensemble, and Tao Yaguchi. Below are daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days; advance tickets are required. To track the blooming of the cherries, check out the updates here.

Saturday, April 29

The Art of Kendama (wooden toys in motion), with Team KENYC and DJ Panic, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 11:00

Takarabune Dance: Awa Odori dance and narimono drum ensemble from Shikoku, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 12 noon

Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 1:30

Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Ink Alley at the Osborne Garden, 2:00

Stand-up Comic Rio: Rio Koike’s Tokyo Magic Show, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 3:15

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 4:00

Hanagasa Odori flower hat procession, with the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:00

Uhnellys indie rock, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15

Sunday, April 30

Japanese Garden Stroll, guided tour, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, 10:00 am

Akim Funk Buddha’s Urban Tea Ceremony Unplugged, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 12 noon

Kuni Mikami & East of the Sun, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 1:00

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 2:00

KuroPOP, J-pop dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:30

Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks, the Osborne Garden, 3:00

NY Suwa Taiko Kids All Stars, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:15

The Eighth Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with hosts Becka Noel and Dhareza Cosplayza and original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15


(photo by Mena Burnette of xmbphotography)

Okwui Okpokwasili’s POOR PEOPLE’S TV ROOM makes its New York premiere April 19-29 at NYLA (photo by Mena Burnette of xmbphotography)

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
April 19-22, 26-29, $15-$35, 7:30

Three-time Bessie-winning dancer, choreographer, actress, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili will present the New York premiere of Poor People’s TV Room at New York Live Arts this week, a multidisciplinary exploration of forgotten black and brown women, inspired by the Igbo Women’s War of 1929 in her parents’ native Nigeria as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, Boko Haram, and colonialism. The work, which is the result of a two-year residency at NYLA, features songs, choreography, and text by Okpokwasili and visual designer Peter Born and will be performed by Okpokwasili, Thuli Dumakude, Katrina Reid, and Nehemoyia Young. “Focusing on cultural and historical memory, Poor People’s TV Room is a kind of rumination on absence — how particular forms of mediation, particular ways of looking and framing in attempting to create visibility, may hasten invisibility,” the Bronx-raised, Brooklyn-based Okpokwasili (Bronx Gothic, Pent Up: A Revenge Dance) said in a statement. “I’m thinking of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls Movement’ and the meme culture. I’m thinking about attempts to recover seminal historical moments from the margins, and what to recover. I am also considering Nollywood and cultural creation and projection and popular mythmaking.” The show, which debuted earlier this year at the Walker Center’s Out There festival, will run at NYLA April 19-22 and 26-29. “It is a space of becoming and unbecoming,” Okpokwasili added. To read Okpokwasili’s thoughts about the current political situation in America, go here.